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Femion » 2008 » June

Playing around with Processing

June 30th, 2008

Through my work in visualization, I’ve come across this really cool program and programming language called Processing which is basically a nerdier version of flash developed by people at MIT. I played around with it today. I generated a list of random numbers ranging from 0 to 255 and grouped them into 3s. The three numbers are used to make up the colour of an ellipse, and then the same three numbers are combined again to make up the x and y coordinates of the ellipse and the width and height. so basically, each possible shape has only one possible colour, and the order of the stacking of the shapes is random. Here’s the image generated by the code ellipse(first,second,third,first*second/third,)

shape2.jpg

and here’s the same set of data, with the slight difference in code being: ellipse(first,first*second/third,second,third).

shape3.jpg

In other news, today I was assigned my own research project in the biophysics lab. So instead of having to help debug other people’s code, I get to debug my own crappy code! I was also offered a job for September, but it’s a bureaucratic job with lots of work and little pay, so I don’t think I’ll consider it. I also made coconut curry tonight. It was delicious.

Posted in Science | Comments Off

Joe’s big win

June 30th, 2008

My cousin Joe won second place in a race in special Olympics in Ohio. I’m posting this mostly because this is now one of my favourite photos.

joewin.jpg

He’s the kid with his hands in the air.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Birth of a Facebook application

June 26th, 2008

I’ve just released my first facebook application out of development mode. Here’s the about page:

blogimageabout.jpg

and here’s what it does to a profile:

blogimageprofile.jpg

Posted in News | Comments Off

Georges Island

June 22nd, 2008

Last weekend, I went with John, his sisters and his dad to Georges Island, a textbook-perfect glacial drumlin in the middle of Halifax harbour that housed a naval fortification in the mid nineteenth century. It is off-limits to the public, as it is still an archeological site and is currently too hazardous to be turned into a tourist attraction (dark, slippery tunnels and steep cliffs are just a lawsuit waiting to happen). Obviously, the archeologists aren’t the only ones getting to the island, as evident by the beer cans lying around. But for one day last week, Parks Canada decided to divert a harbour ferry to the island and offered guided tours. It was pretty neat.
georgesisland1.jpg

Looking back at Halifax from the ferry.

georgesisland2.jpg

Looking back at Halifax from Georges Island.

georgesisland3.jpg

Looking down one of the steep cliffs at the Georges Island lighthouse. The tall gray building in the background is Fenwick Towers, where I’ll be living next year.

georgesisland4.jpg

This picture was taken from where one of the cannons used to sit. I think it’s cool because you can see the Halifax Citadel (the green hill in the background) from there.

Posted in travel | Comments Off

Coding frustrations

June 13th, 2008

For most of today, I’ve been dealing with two programming annoyances. The first is in my work. I chose to write my programs in Actionscript instead of Java, and I think I’m now paying the price. As far as I can tell, the only way to incorporate outside data is with XML, and Actionscript references XML in a very irksome way. Think of XML as storing data as boxes inside of boxes. For example, an XML document could be of the form:
<box1>
<innerboxa>
</innerboxa>
</box1>
<box2>
</box2>
<box3>
<innerboxb>
</innerboxb>
<innerboxc>
</innerboxc>
</box3>
Now, I think it would make sense to be able to reference the stuff in inner box c by going xml.box3.innerboxc . But no. Actionscript ignores the names of the boxes and instead arranges the tags by a family tree. To get to innerboxc, you have to go firstChild.nextSibling.nextSibling.firstChild.nextSibling.
Anyway, I’ve gotten used to the Actionscript family tree system. The problem I ran into a few days ago was that Actionscript didn’t seem to be passing variables out of the xml scope into the global scope. At least, that was what I assumed was going on, from the forum threads I read. So I spent several hours trying out all the various solutions, and none of them worked. It turned out that my problem was that the functions using data from xml were executing before the xml data was loaded. A few minutes to write some timeline controls and it was fixed. So much for four wasted hours spent on the wrong solution.
I’m also working on a facebook application for the DSU. My second frustration is related to the facebook libraries that are required for facebook applications. They include files that don’t exist, or are in another directory. It seems like a really easy thing to fix, and facebook has been allowing people to develop applications for at least a year now.

Posted in Rants | Comments Off

John’s Website

June 10th, 2008

I made John’s website pretty. Aren’t I the best girlfriend ever?

Posted in Life | Comments Off

Introduction to Summer

June 4th, 2008

Since I haven’t yet described exactly what I’m doing this summer, I think I’ll do it now. I’m subletting from one of my friends in my math classes, and living with four male friends who are all in engineering or physics in a house in a nice residential neighborhood of Halifax. I’m working as a clerk in a non-computerized post office (meaning I have to weigh and measure parcels, calculate the volumetric weight and then quote a price out of a binder! Now I know what my physics skills are useful for!). I vowed to never work retail again after my horrible experience in the smoke shop last year, but the post office is a better job. My customers are nicer - polite senior citizens and people from the medical offices upstairs rather than people addicted to pull-tab lottery tickets or who have lost their teeth from chewing tobacco. I’m getting paid a dollar more per hour than the smoke shop, and when it’s slow, which it quite frequently is, I’m allowed to sit in a little office and read. Most of my co-workers are also university students.

But that job’s nothing really to brag about.

Rutenberg, the prof I’ve been doing volunteer research for for the past year, told me yesterday that he will pay me to work for him this summer. This is despite not quite having the grades to get a summer research scholarship, and Rutenberg told me from the start that he probably wouldn’t be able to pay me. But I guess my hard work has paid off, and he’s managed to find the funds to pay me.

He’s assigned me to the project of programming a computer visualization of peptidoglycan exteriors in bacteria. I’ll be working with my friend and roommate Bobo, who was a co-author on my carbon nanotube paper.

So yeah. That’s what my summer looks like. Hanging out in Halifax with friends, working two jobs, one of which is a fun/nerdy computer programming one, cooking my own food and waiting for school to start up again.

In a previous e-mail my mother expressed concern that my diet was not very nutritionally rich. Here’s a list of the stuff I’ve cooked so far in order to dispel that idea:

Spaghetti
Chili
Pesto
Cabbage casserole
Beef stew
Spanikopita
Chicken tetrazzini
Chicken broccoli stir fry
Lemon chicken
Beef tortillas

… and of course everything is accompanied by a salad or a side of vegetables.

Posted in Life | Comments Off

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